Allison Sears, who starred at middle hitter for the Valparaiso volleyball team from 2005 through 2008, has taken her skills over to Europe, where she is currently playing professionally for Datovoc Tongeren, a team in Belgium’s top division.
Sears and her teammates are just 1-3 so far this season, but Sears has been getting the job done in the middle, hitting over .500 in each of her matches and posting 10 kills on .769 hitting, along with five blocks and a pair of service aces in the team’s most recent match. Despite her individual success so far, Sears finds herself still adjusting on the court, both to the gameplay and the language barrier.
“Volleyball is a bit different over here in the tactical sense,” said Sears. “They play a different style, but I am adjusting. They are starting to use me in the middle a lot more than they usually use a middle, which always makes me happy. Throughout practice and games, they don't speak English so I have to have everything translated for me. I have picked up most volleyball terms, but even then, I still don't always understand what is being said. The girls all speak English, some more than others, so I can talk with my teammates, but since they are all from Belgium, it is easier for the coach to just speak Flemish and then have someone translate for me.”
While the language barrier has been a bit of an issue for Sears, she also has found some slices of America in Belgium, and has even taken advantage of the opportunity to educate Belgians about her home country.
“TV here is usually in Flemish, but they do have a few shows in English from the states that I can watch,” said Sears. “The good thing is all the movies are in English, so I can enjoy them without having to read subtitles. The food is very similar to what we have at home, so thankfully I am not struggling to find food either. People have a lot of questions about what America is like; it is almost always ‘I saw this in a movie...is it really like that in America?’ Because they see so many American movies and listen to American music, they hear and see a lot about our country, so it is nice to be able to have some information for them in return for what they have done to help me acclimate to their country.”
Fans who wish to follow Sears and Datovoc Tongeren throughout the season can visit www.datovoc.be [note: site is in Flemish]. Sears is definitely excited to be on the court again, but looks back fondly on her time at Valparaiso.
“I am very happy to be playing again, but sometimes I wish it was at home and in the ARC still,” said Sears. “I miss how fun it was there, not to mention the fun our team had. Having friends and family there to watch was always great too.”